Minolta-Sony Flash Compatibility

Discussion in 'Sony' started by Fred McKenzie, Oct 26, 2006.

  1. It never occurred to me that an old Minolta 5400xi flash might not be
    compatible with the Sony Alpha 100. (The 5400xi was the flash of choice
    for the 9xi film body.) The Sony will fire the flash and the zoom
    feature changes when the lens is zoomed. It was possible to change
    exposure by reducing the power level, but TTL exposure doesn't seem to

    A local camera dealer has the 5600HSD flash for the Konica-Minolta 7D
    and 5D. Otherwise I'll have an hour's drive to the nearest Ritz store
    to get the Sony HVL-F56AM flash. Can anyone tell me whether the
    Konica-Minolta flash for the 7D and 5D is compatible with the Sony? Is
    there any difference, or is the Sony just a re-branded Konica-Minolta?

    Fred McKenzie, Oct 26, 2006
    1. Advertisements

  2. Fred McKenzie

    Alan Browne Guest

    Only the Minolta 3600HS and 5600HS (and "D") worked on the 7D/5D and
    should also work on the Sony A100. It is the Minolta flash with the
    Sony brand.
    Yes (re-branded).
    Alan Browne, Oct 27, 2006
    1. Advertisements

  3. Fred McKenzie

    Alan Browne Guest

    Sorry, forgot to include:

    The 2500D, Macro Ring Flash 1200 and Macro Twin flash 2400 (with macro
    flash controllers) should also work on the 5D, 7D and A100.

    Other flashes (i, xi, 5400HS, and some others can be used, but you have
    to manually set the power).
    Alan Browne, Oct 27, 2006
  4. Alan-

    Thanks for the reassurance. I went ahead and got the local 5600HS(D)
    flash. The dealer let me try it on my camera in the store. It seems to
    work perfectly, and its operation matches the flash described in the
    camera manual.

    Fred McKenzie, Oct 27, 2006
  5. Alan-

    Can you elaborate on this? My 5400xi flash did function to an extent,
    but there didn't seem to be any TTL exposure control.

    Images are very over-exposed with 1/1 power setting. When I reduce
    power to 1/32, I get reasonable close-up exposures. Is there any reason
    to think the TTL is functioning when I do that?

    Now that I have the newer flash, it isn't so important to get the xi
    flash working, but I'd like to know what is going on!

    Fred McKenzie, Oct 27, 2006
  6. Not that I can see, and the Minolta literature suggests that it does not.

    I think you just have to accept that that's the way it is -- the older flash
    units will still fire with the digital SLRs but you don't get TTL flash
    metering, so can only adjust exposure by tinkering with the power setting
    and/or aperture. I have a Maxxum 5D myself and have never even tried it with
    my older Maxxum flash units -- I suppose I ought to experiment with them
    just out of curiosity.

    Neil Harrington, Oct 28, 2006
  7. Fred McKenzie

    Alan Browne Guest

    Right. You can set a nominal aperture and then control the power in
    full stop steps (1/1, 1/2, 1/4, 1/8, 1/16, 1/32) using the histogram as
    a guide. (I _assume_ the 5400xi has the same power controls as the
    5400HS that I have, IAC). The closer you are, the less power (or close
    down the aperture some).

    Also adjust aperture to offset for the coarse full stop intervals of the
    You need the 5600HS or 5600HSD to get TTL flash (2500D, 3600HS too).
    The reason is that for just about all digital cameras a pre-flash
    metering is made using the prism located exposure sensors.

    Only the later Minolta flashes support pre-flash. Pre-flash as a
    metering method was available in the Maxxum 9 and 7 (and 5?) so those
    later flashes were pre-equipped for digital. Whether that was foresight
    or luck (later I believe) I'm happy I have a 5600HS.

    Film TTL flash exposure was OTF (Off the film) in the early days and was
    the main method for almost all Maxxum cameras up to the Maxxum 9 and 7
    (which incorporated pre-flash as well, and the 7 incorporated distance
    as well).

    But digital sensors do not reflect light efficiently (at least for flash
    measurement, perhaps too specular). (If you have a minolta Maxxum film
    camera, open the film door (w/o film of course), set Bulb, hold down the
    shutter and look at the bottom of the chamber (bottom of the mirror
    section) and you will see a slot with three sensors: that's the OTF
    sensor array).

    So digital cameras fire a weak pre-flash, measures the return (assumes a
    mid-tone world), and then pre-sets the flash power before the actual
    shot. In P-mode I assume there is an aperture v. power balancing act,
    but I'm not entirely sure. I just shoot "M" with a nominal shutter
    speed (1/160 for the 7D) and whatever aperture I need.

    [In P&S cameras the flash sensor is the CCD/CMOS itself; in reflex
    cameras it is the reflected light meter traditionally used for non-flash

    Result? On the Maxxum 7D, 90% or more shots of people end up with
    closed eyes as the pre-flash makes them blink right on time for the
    shot! Red-eye reduction mode might help get the eye blink timing
    different, but I haven't tried it. For people shots I just use manaul
    flash exposure and set distances ... much better consistency in exposure
    and color, usually bounced off of at least a small reflector, ceiling or

    Like others, I've found that the pre-flash exposure on the 7D is in
    error by about 1.3 to 1.7 stops under. So in the rare times that I use
    TTL flash on the 7D I usually have the flash comp set to +1.5. I don't
    know if this has been fixed in the Sony A100. K-M had a fix for the
    exposure problem that involved sending them the flash and the camera for
    some procedure (not sure if it was calibration or re-programming, but I
    was not willing to part with my equipment for a couple weeks to get it
    adjusted. Most of my flash work with the 7D has been with studio flash
    for which it is a very capable camera).

    [Sidebar: there are also some Minolta lenses with focus distance
    reporting that are coupled into the flash power computation. This
    reduces the error from non-mid-tone metering. I only have one (D) lens
    that support that, but not a lens I use much with attached flash.]

    Alan Browne, Oct 28, 2006
  8. Fred McKenzie skrev:
    Oh bugger! What do I do with my 5400xi flashes then? :p
    Geir Eivind Mork, Oct 29, 2006
  9. Neil & Alan-

    I'm getting an education in the evolution of flash. It never would have
    occurred to me that the TTL light would not reflect correctly off of the
    digital sensor. In the old film world, the film's surface was somewhat
    matte, and could be replaced by a special gray card to test exposure.

    Even though the TTL doesn't work with the digital body, the older
    flashes should work in their own auto mode using the sensor on the
    flash, or in manual mode. At least the zoom feature works!

    Fred McKenzie, Oct 29, 2006
  10. But the Maxxum flash units never had a sensor on the flash, at least not the
    standard units that connected by the proprietary flash shoe. It was all TTL,
    or manual. If you had some sort of older (or anyway non-TTL) automatic
    flash, that should work in auto mode with the camera in manual or aperture
    priority -- if you could connect it to the camera. I don't know how you'd do
    that, exactly. Maybe someone makes a standard hot shoe to Minolta adapter,
    or a PC terminal to Minolta shoe adapter.

    :) Yes, now that you mention it I guess it would.

    Neil Harrington, Nov 2, 2006
  11. Neil-

    You are right! I had assumed the sensor was there, but never tried to
    use it. The Minolta 4000AF flash, which has the regular hot shoe,
    doesn't have one either.

    Yes, Minolta made the FS-1100 hot shoe-to-Minolta adapter.

    Fred McKenzie, Nov 4, 2006
  12. Fred McKenzie

    PG Guest

    I think this thread is confirming what I discovered last night. I have
    KM 5D, and acquired a used basic flash - a Jessops 280AFM for
    non-digital Minoltas. As you'll see, I'm a flash newbie, so these may
    well be stupid questions.

    So I shouldn't expect the TTL to work, because I'd need a Minolta
    D-compatible flash, or a Sony one, right?

    The flash itself has a sensor, but I'm confused as to how that works.
    There's a table on the back of the flash, giving aperture settings for
    different ISOs and subject distances. Is the idea that if I set the
    camera (in Aperture priority mode) to the aperture suggested in the
    table, the onboard sensor should ensure correct exposure (at least for
    an ideal flat, 18% grey subject)?

    Or is it likely that the flash doesn't realise TTL doesn't work, and
    will be expecting a signal from the camera rather than using its own

    In either case, how (if at all) can I use different aperture settings
    for depth of field variation, without messing up the exposure? There
    are no settings on the flash that allow me to manually set the power or
    anything, and presumably the flash doesn't know what aperture I'm
    using. Is this flash going to be next to useless?

    Any advice gratefully received.

    - PG
    PG, Nov 9, 2006
  13. PG-

    If I understand your description of the Jessops flash, it has a sensor
    that sees light reflected from the subject being photographed, and
    quenches the flash output at some predetermined level. If so, you
    likely have only one insulated contact on the bottom of the flash shoe,
    and it doesn't use any data from the camera except when to fire. (If it
    has a second contact, that might be to signal the camera when the flash
    is ready to fire.)

    To use it with any camera, digital or film, you must set the lens
    aperture for an f/stop that depends on film or sensor ISO setting. The
    chart on the flash is often just an approximate guide. Fortunately with
    digital cameras, you can experiment without wasting film.

    In addition to the f/stop, you must be able to set the ISO to some known
    value. By choosing different combinations, you may be able to achieve a
    desirable depth of focus.

    One warning to consider - what is the voltage on the flash contact?
    Some digital cameras might be damaged by voltages found on older flash
    equipment. See if the owner's manual tells what voltage the KM 5D is
    designed to tolerate.

    Fred McKenzie, Nov 10, 2006
    1. Advertisements

Ask a Question

Want to reply to this thread or ask your own question?

You'll need to choose a username for the site, which only take a couple of moments (here). After that, you can post your question and our members will help you out.